You know when Newsweek is publishing a story on needed reforms for law schools that the conversation has extended past the legal community. Unfortunately rapid change has not been a trait of academia or of the legal community. But serious questions are being asked and they deserve discussion outside of the halls of academia.
Here are two thought-provoking articles for you to review and share.
“Facing up to the challenge: It’s time to prepare law students for their profession” was published on the ABA Journal’s New Normal page near the end of January. The author is Michael Roster, a former managing partner of Morrison & Foerster’s Los Angeles office. He now teaches Contract Drafting and Strategy at the USC Gould School of Law. He is uniquely qualified to critique law schools because he was a consumer of what law firms produce- newly-minted lawyers looking for a job. It is hard to argue with the goals he outlines for legal education change.
The newly published Newsweek article “Law Schools: Reform or Go Bust” is written by James Huffman, Dean Emeritus and a professor of law at Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon. His critique is well-written. His solutions will not be well-received by law professors, beginning with his proposal to cut faculty numbers in half by requiring faculty to devote most of their time to teaching. Would anyone think laying off half of the people in their field was a good idea, after all?
I am not really in a position to advocate specific changes. I can echo the oft-repeated phrase that law schools should produce “practice ready” graduates. But James Huffman brings up one interesting point− how much better off would these new lawyers and society be if they were able to graduate law school relatively debt free?